SBJ/Sept. 2-8, 2013/In Depth

Inside the team playbook

What to watch among NFL teams this season

Swimming upstream
The Dolphins lost bids to host the Super Bowl and have failed to gain approval for a fan vote on stadium upgrades.
Photo by: Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins had a stormy offseason. In May, the team couldn’t convince the Florida Legislature to allow a public vote for upgrades to Sun Life Stadium. Shortly afterward, the team lost not one, but two Super Bowl bid votes among NFL owners. And a few months later, its president, Mike Dee, resigned to join the San Diego Padres.

The south Florida market has long been a difficult one for sports teams, with so many outdoor entertainment options. Winning could cure some of the Dolphins’ struggles at the gate, but the team needs to quickly find a business leader. The club had hoped to have someone by the start of the season, though that is increasingly looking unlikely.



How goes Raider Nation?
Is Mark Davis looking to take the Raiders to Los Angeles?
Photo by: Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders also lost their president this offseason, though this move was long expected. Amy Trask had been Al Davis’ right hand for some time, so after his death in 2011, Trask’s departure had widely been rumored.

Davis’ son Mark now runs the team, and sources say he has been scouting locations in Los Angeles to move the franchise from its unappealing stadium in Oakland. The NFL would have to sign off on such a move, and that is uncertain given that the league has struggled for years to find an acceptable way to get the NFL back to Los Angeles.




Grounded in New York
The Jets’ quarterback controversy continues to fuel fan frustrations.
Photo by: Getty Images

While the New York Jets play in the nation’s largest market, they struggled last year in some games to sell out. With controversy on the field again enveloping the franchise, a poor start could once again raise the sellout/blackout question.

Fans were already reeling from the failed Tim Tebow experiment last year, and now comes this offseason’s controversial quarterback competition between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. The Jets have been cutting prices in the upper decks, but even that may not be enough if the circus continues full throttle.








Another season in Qualcomm
The Chargers have gotten nowhere on the stadium front.
Photo by: Getty Images

With no hope in sight for a new San Diego stadium, the Chargers must make do with Qualcomm Stadium, which Sports Illustrated recently wrote gave dumps a bad name. The club had pinned hopes on the city’s new mayor for a political breakthrough on the stadium front. But Bob Filner resigned over a sexual harassment scandal.

It’s not an easy task to keep the stadium full with warm weather and beaches as tempting options, and if the team struggles, that job is even harder. The club this year is helped by a strong lineup of nondivisional home games, including national brands like the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. Still, the news releases the team sent out days before its third preseason game warning of a pending blackout certainly could be a precursor of more to come.



Dogged by legal issues
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has denied knowing about alleged fraud at his private truck stop company.
Photo by: Getty Images

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s private truck stop company is the subject of a federal lawsuit in Tennessee. The case so far has not legally reached Haslam, but if it does, look for his father, Jim Haslam II, to assume control of the team.

The question for the NFL at that point would be whether the league forces a sale. Haslam has denied knowing about the alleged fraud at his company, Pilot Flying J. Still, the surprise April raid on the company revived concerns in Cleveland about distracted ownership and potential control changes.

The team’s preseason transpired with little to suggest the Pilot news had an effect. Dismal teams and horrific weather have not dimmed the Browns’ allure in Ohio, and so far, neither has the Pilot Flying J scandal.

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